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01/09/14
Oh Those Pesky Numerical Goals
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 5:22 pm

This post got thoroughly messed up.

It was going to be about a healthy sense of zen detachment from a goal.  Ok. Maybe not “healthy”, but at least self-aware.

It’s about the curse of the need for round number amidst capricious standards of measure.  Yeah.  I know. Exciting stuff. But, hey, I’ve watched a documentary about a font style.

Anyway - here was the setup:
I’ve been riding less the last couple of years.  One of the effects of being your own boss and running your own business such as mine is that you can’t really show up at work slightly worn out from an epic ride.  Plus, there’s the knowledge that you can’t get sick.  Which means rather than push out into an oncoming storm for a ride or push things more than a bit past comfortable, I’ve been careful.  On the one hand, I definitely have avoided some of those bugs which bit more firmly when the reserves were tasked.   It’s been an extension of the Anti-Costanza Training Method which I stumbled upon a few years ago. 

The fact is that a hard, long ride can affect my voice.  And my voice has a lot to do with my income (which is weird, but well outside of this post).   Which means I have to maintain some rigid priorities some time. 

It does mean that I have perhaps enjoyed the miles a bit more.  Appreciated them when I’m not trying to match a read across a multi-day narration project. Known that the hour on the trails was all I’d get on a given day.  Enjoyed the quality rather than the quantity. 

Of course, I’d tell myself that.  Then enter the miles. 

Which made the latent racer/randonneur gene kick in.  And I’d work the math.

With a few decent months, I could still get 4,000 miles.  Then, later in the year 3,500 was still reasonable.  Then a solid 3000.

A quick analysis of those goals shows one thing - a fondness for “milestones”.  Numbers ending in three zeroes.  Or ending in 500.  Heck, if pressed, even a number ending in a 250 would do. 

But it’s all artificial as hell.  For starters, 3,000 miles is 4,828 kilometers.  And there’s something slightly less attractive about a goal of 4,828.  I mean, if you are edging in on 4,828, you might as well push for 5,000 kms, eh? 

We like those even numbers as goals.  They are satisfying.  Easily understood. Not as pedantic as 3,106 miles.  Which, if you share, non-cycists look at you kind of sideways, hoping that you have at least another small hobby. 

Chewing on these thoughts close to the end of 2013,  I finally decided it didn’t matter.  I’d had a few good weeks on the bike, keeping healthy after falling victim to the weird grippe which permeated the area.  Finding an odd hour here and there when the seriously chilly weather we experienced (hey - chilly for us, ok…)  was at its warmest.  2,500 was still a  possibility until some family commitments and the fact it was more comfortable to hike conspired to push that slightly too far. 

I was close too - had managed a decent couple rides, but felt a bit too worn to push too far for the last ride of the year.  Would end up maybe 10 miles short.  And I was OK with that.

That’s what this post was going to be about.  Riding and realizing that mattered more than the artificial numbers we assigned to distances. (I think I’m going to look for something that will track my rides in leagues - or if I really want to impress someone - furlongs).  I was just shy of 2,500 miles and was content.

Then I plugged in my mileage from the last ride. To my chagrin, the mental addition I’d attempted was off.  The 2013 miles sat solidly at 2,501.

And I’m ok with that.

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